The month of December isn’t always “merry and bright” for everyone. For those that feel blue this season; here is some encouragement…By Pat Heckman

Look around. What do you see? Do you know anyone who may be struggling this Christmas season because they have lost a loved one since last Christmas? Do you know anyone who is struggling with the loss of a job or his or her health or maybe a loss due to a divorce? There are people who for one reason or another who cannot find joy and peace this time of year. Do you know anyone who is finding it difficult to enjoy and partake in Christmas this season because they are unable to be merry and bright? If you do, your friend or family member is most likely experiencing a Blue Christmas.  This is a time of year when we all should be filled with comfort and joy, singing carols about Jingle Bells and O Christmas Tree. Yet some of us can’t this year because of great loss, which instead is filling them with sadness and depression.

We may not be able to take away their hurt, sadness or depression, but there are things we can do to help the ones we care about. Give your friend or family member space to feel whatever they are feeling. Acknowledge their feelings, but be in touch with your own anxiety that may surface when you are in their presence. Don’t try and “fix” them in order to ease your own discomfort just accept the feeling they have.

When supporting a friend or family member through a difficult period, help keep the pressure low. Don’t push the holiday spirit upon your loved one. Give space and permission for them to cancel a day of shopping, or to initiate a deep conversation on a day you had planned for celebration.

Stay connected with those who are feeling blue during the holidays. Stick close and remember not everything you do needs to be Christmas related. Mundane chores like laundry and grocery shopping can be lonely times. Offer to help. Staying healthy may be more difficult for those feeling blue. Help by offering to go for a walk together or by making healthy eating choices. Diet and exercise always seems easier with a partner. Be that partner.

Stephen ministry is available here at Simpsonwood. It is a ministry you can tell them exists to bring Christian care to those who are burdened. Just have them call Rev. Amanda Lane or myself and we can pair them up with a Stephen minister. However, if you feel that your friend or family member’s behavior is more than just “blue”, suggest they go talk to a professional who will be better able to help them deal with their feelings of depression and sadness. The Christmas holiday is not a time of joy for many who are missing loved ones or experiencing a loss this season. Let’s do what we can do to bring comfort and care into their lives.

Learn more about Stephen Ministry